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COVID: All West Contra Costa Schools to Close for Long Omicron Recovery Weekend

RICHMOND (CBS SF) -- Officials with the West Contra Costa County Unified School District on Wednesday announced all schools would be closed this Friday and Monday as the district copes with staffing shortages and student illness caused by the omicron-fueled COVID case surge.

The message addressing the community and announcing the planned school closure was posted on the WCCUSD website Wednesday evening.

"This has been a very challenging week for school communities across our district. The omicron variant spike in cases happening across the country is greatly impacting our schools as well," the statement attributed to Superintendent Dr. Kenneth Chris Hurst. "In our district, we are seeing far more staff absences than usual because of the virus, and we also have an increased number of students testing positive for COVID-19 as we return from winter break. This is putting an immense strain on our system. The rapid spread of the virus requires an aggressive response to ensure safety."

Classes are being called off on Friday, January 7, and Monday, January 10, to give staffers and students out with COVID time to recover as well as giving custodial workers a chance to deep-clean campuses.

The district's COVID dashboard page additionally showed that King Elementary School was closed on Tuesday after ten students registered a positive COVID test. The school is listed on the page as being closed until Jan. 14.

The district is also urging everyone to get tested before returning on Tuesday, January 11.

The district is using the same type of "discretionary" days it uses for closures related to wildfire smoke.

"The safety of our students and staff is our top priority, and closing school to prevent further outbreaks is an action we take very seriously and will only do when it is absolutely necessary," Dr. Hurst's statement read. "I do encourage all of our students and staff to quarantine as much as possible during the smoke days."

The closure on Monday, January 10, will also impact the district's three new testing sites at the Alvarado Adult School in Richmond; the Ohlone Elementary School campus in Hercules; and the district's central office in Richmond. Parents are advised to get their children tested with a rapid test at home or through their healthcare provider

If a student is feeling sick or exhibiting any COVID symptoms, they are asked to be kept at home.

More information regarding the closures can be found on the West Contra Costa County Unified School District website.

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